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Imprints of world medicine

Medical achievements in the second decade of the 21st century have changed the lives of not only mankind now but also in the future.

Gene-editing technique CRISPR

CRISPR is the name of the technique used to quickly and easily edit a DNA sequence in such a way that either part of a gene is completely removed, or that one gene code(s) is replaced with another.

In fact, this basic engineering mechanism was discovered decades ago, but it is only in the past few years that the gene-editing technique CRISPR really "takes off", after being refined to perfection. and the application method becomes simpler and more accurate.

Right now, scientists are experimenting with genetic engineering of mosquitoes to make them resistant to the malaria virus or to have all mosquitoes born as male (not biting humans). Accordingly, they will no longer be at risk of becoming a host to infect humans with diseases.

Scientists are also studying a treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia in mice and are testing a therapy to treat inherited blindness using CRISPR gene editing. Of course, these are just a few of the many experiments in which CRISPR has been implemented.

Although there are many views in the medical community that praise the effects of CRISPR gene editing in the treatment and prevention of diseases, many experts have warned about the unpredictable consequences of this method. . Many studies have shown that some cells after being interfered with by CRISPR are damaged and missing a gene, thereby leading to a higher risk of cancer.

In 2018, the world public was shocked after Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced that he had used the above method to edit the genes of two Chinese twin girls, making them immune to HIV.

This is also the first time the world knows about the first people born with the genome that has been interfered with, edited from the embryo. The Chinese scientist's trials are not published in specialized medical journals, the full results of that study have not been published, and many questions "hang" around this event.

Even the Chinese government denies that it supports the research of scientist He Jiankui. But can humanity close the door with gene editing? The answer to this question will probably be within the next decade.

HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

HIV drugs have been available for a long time and are rated for very good effectiveness. Those are drugs that actually help reduce the amount of HIV virus in a person's blood to undetectable levels.

This means that if the medicine is taken correctly, people with HIV will not be able to infect others. These drugs help prolong the life of the patient, turning HIV into a chronic disease like many other common diseases.

Although medicine has not yet found a cure for HIV/AIDS, the research and treatment process has made other great achievements.

In 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Truvada for HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, meaning that people can take it to prevent HIV infection in the first place. Not only that, generic versions of Truvada (cheaper than brand-name drugs) were later approved for use in developed countries such as the US and Canada.

A recent study found that pre-exposure prophylaxis significantly reduced the number of new HIV infections in one Australian state.

However, to date, the prescription of HIV prevention drugs has not met the expectations of public health officials, partly because the drug supply is not really popular and also partly because of the cost. of the drug is still high.

3D printed prostheses

One of the most talked-about new technologies of the past decade is 3D printing. Medical researchers have seen huge application potential from this technology. Doctors have created a wide range of internal organs and body parts using 3D printing technology, but looking back over the past decade, 3D printing technology for body prostheses, especially prosthetics, is real. more prominence.

It's so popular that if someone needs a prosthetic hand, they just need to visit a website, download a (free) hand sample with detailed instructions on sizing and printing.

There has been an open-source community in this area for many years and is run mainly by volunteers. The organization e-NABLE estimates that thousands of people around the world are currently using these prostheses.

While these parts are flawed - they can break or break - they are much cheaper than conventionally manufactured equivalent models.

Artificial pancreas

The term "artificial pancreas" has become a popular term for a device that has been licensed for use in the US since 2016 and in Canada in 2018 to help treat patients with type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin.

They need insulin injections throughout the day to control blood sugar and reduce the risk of complications that can have long-term consequences such as amputation or retinal problems, causing blindness. Many patients have had to turn to insulin pump devices and testing tools to solve the problem.

The artificial pancreas has made things easier. It first reads the patient's insulin level, then uses an algorithm to decide how much sugar to give them, automatically delivering the drug into the patient's bloodstream.

Although patients still need to add insulin in some other situations (such as before meals), studies have shown that these systems often lead to better blood sugar control.

Scientists are still trying to find a solution to develop a fully automated system or an "artificial pancreas" that really helps patients without any intervention. In the process, advocacy efforts have also been made to make insurance more affordable for the use of these progressive devices.